The 2014 Farm Business Food and Farming Industry Awards were presented on Friday evening in a ceremony at the Members Dining Room of the House of Commons in the historic Palace of Westminster.
The awards were presented by the evening’s speaker, the author, broadcaster, actor, entertainer and former Member of Parliament Gyles Brandreth who delighted and teased the audience all the way through, ably assisted by compere Sean Sparling. Host for the evening was Neil Parish MP.
Look out for features on the winners in future editions of Farm Business and photos from the event will be available shortly.
AWARD WINNERS LINE UP 2014
FARM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR sponsored by Firestone
Winner: Bakers of Haselbury Plucknett
The Bakers started the farm in 1966 growing from 70 cows to 350 cows and still continues growing to the point where it now has 1,500 dairy cows and 300 followers. As one of the judges said, this is exactly the right kind of farm to be a Farm Business winner, highly productive, positive outlook, looking to the future despite pressures on milk prices. Bakers are investing in technology, buildings and in a skilled workforce, with a clear strategy and sound management instinct, they see their effort turn into a profitable and sustainable future for generations to come.
Neil Baker, farm manager, received this award, including the engraved solid silver Farm Business of the Year winner’s cup from Barry Coleman, director of marketing at Firestone.
PROGRESSIVE FARMER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Agrovista UK Ltd.
Winner – Overbury Farms
Overbury farms stood out from other farming businesses, said the judges in their holistic approach to crop production, understanding soils and their potential, and the right markets to focus on to increase profitability. They are not afraid to embrace new technology, and at the same time, get involved with the wider community and really champion British agriculture.
The award was presented to Jake Freestone, farm manager, by Nick Rainsley, Head of Marketing at Agrovista.
Highly Commended – McIlroy’s chickens
McIlroys have used modern, welfare friendly production techniques to create a niche for quality poultry to the marketplace. Being early adopters of new technology, and working with end-markets has allowed the business to develop new rearing programs to capture extra value in the food chain. Graham McIlroy, owner of McIlroys’ Chickens received the award.
AGRONOMIST OF THE YEAR – sponsored by DuPont (UK)
Winner: Selwyn Rees – Agronomist from Agrovista UK Ltd
Selwyn is an enthusiastic advocate of crop protection in conjunction with integrated farm management. He has a clear vision of progressive farming techniques said the judges and is keen to help growers reduce the risk to their business by maximising the profitability and sustainability of their enterprises. Selwyn is technically focussed, proactive and professional, a worthy winner of this award. Selwyn received the award from Georgina Clayton, senior registration representative at DuPont.
Highly Commended: Steve Wolff – Agronomist and director of business development at Procam UK Ltd
Steve demonstrated a keenness to identify and fulfil customer aspirations, embracing innovative and forward thinking farming practices to help protect customer investments and manage risk. He is also responsible for mentoring many trainees, providing talented agronomists for the future.
RURAL ENTERPRISE AWARD – Sponsored by Strutt and Parker
Winner: Wheelbirks Farm
A very clever concept and something that is really delivering a big difference to a small family farming business said the judges. It utilizes its geography very well, boosts local employment, engages with the public, both educational and well financed. Tom Richardson, joint owner received the award from Richard Means, director and partner at Strutt & Parker.
Highly Commended – Wold Top Brewery
An excellent farm enterprise diversification which has shown that it can further develop past its initial concept. Very good brand awareness, evidence of strong financial growth in a tricky sector and a well thought out strategy said the judges. Paul Bellinger, business manager, received the award
PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Warners Solicitors LLP
Winner – Minette Batters – Farmer and NFU Deputy President
The judges this year felt that Minette was the strongest candidate to win this award, from running a successful beef and dairy farm as a single mother, she has made real efforts to promote the industry with her “Ladies in Beef” campaign and her forthcoming “Mighty Milk” campaign and, her recent appointment to Deputy President of the NFU is something Minette is very proud of, and we’re sure we will be seeing a great deal more of this talented individual. Minette received the award from Steve Colville, head of Agriculture and Landed Estates.
FOOD CHAIN MARKETING AWARD
Winner – The Cheese Cellar
With turnover of some £80m and distributing and marketing over 400 artisan meat and dairy product lines, the Cheese Cellar have provided the route for small producers to sell to top-of-the range clients. Truffle Goudas, Elderflower Cheddars and even cheese cocktails have been finding their way into high-class restaurants and British Airways First Class catering.
The Cheese Cellar helps customers to launch and sell their products with help and advice on technical issues and how to make their products commercially viable.
Tracey Colley, retail account manager received the award from Findlay MacBean, head of large animal business at Merial Animal Health.
Highly Commended: Freshgro
A highly impressive business said the judges, producing 35,000 tonnes of carrots a year, owner Martin Evans eats sleeps and breaths carrots it would seem to take this business to the volumes and markets it now reaches, with well run profile building marketing campaigns, he has achieved great success. Martin Evans, CEO, received the award
CHAMPION SUSTAINABLE FARM PRACTICES sponsored by NSF Agriculture
Winner – The Wheatsheaf Farming Company
Set up as a not for profit contracting farming company that benefits four like minded owners across 4000 acres in Hampshire Farms Manager David Miller has taken sustainability to a higher level. While he farms very commercially his attention to detail means that profits increase but not at the expenses of habitat and the environment. As David Miller eloquently puts it there are three elements to sustainability looking after the soil, the business particularly the people involved and engaging effectively with the public. In that respect The Wheatsheaf Farming Company are truly sustainable.
David Miller, farm manager, received the award from Bill Young, Head of UK Commercial Operations
Highly Commended: Frogmary Green Farm
Nick and Claire Bragg clearly care for the environment and have high welfare which is endorsed by LEAF as a demonstration farm and the premium they get through selling their chickens through the newly rebranded RSPCA. Potatoes add an important diversification into the equation along with maize and grass production. Producing not far off 1million birds a year their investment in renewable energy has helped dramatically reduce costs of production and actually add to the bottom line.
Nick and Claire Bragg, owners of Frogmary Green Farm received the award
YOUNG FARMER OF THE YEAR sponsored by Massey Ferguson
Winner – Joe Stent, Poplar Trees Farm, Suffolk
Joe has shown a keen eye for business opportunities, both within his main business, finishing pigs for BQP, and also for developing renewable energies and environmental schemes, growing the finishing business from 2 to 6 thousand pigs. In order to enable this expansion Joe has invested wisely in ground, buildings and in renewables including rainwater harvesting technology. With Joe’s plans for future expansion he looks set to continue with his recent successes.
Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson director of Sales, Engineering and Brand Development, and Freddie Pullan, Massey Ferguson technical training manager presented the award to Joe.
Special Award for Innovation: Alex Fisher – managing director at Saturn Bioponics
With the current rapid growth in population we need radically look at how we produce food, especially intensive soft produce and salad production. Alex Fisher is doing just that with an innovative hydroponics venture called Saturn Bioponics. Alex combines the best of hydroponic production and vertical crop production to potentially increase yields by up to 5 times per unit of land.
RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Winner – Blacker Hall Farm shop Ltd
A £4.8M turnover business up 11% on the previous year, this impressive farm shop has been going for 15 years now, staggering progress in so short a time, with 6,500 customers a week – a phenomenal family business with some great retail figures and a very strong sense of style in everything they do.
Edward Garthwaite, managing director of Blacker Hall received the award from Chris Lyddon, editor of Farm Business.
Highly Commended – Cranston’s Quality Butchers
Established in 1940 with 2 foodhalls and 4 shops and wholesale, now through this impressive business has reached £10M turnover and 20,000 customers a week. The judges liked the fact the business had been going for so long, and continued to innovate new product ranges, innovative marketing promotions to get footfall, constant customer communications, building strong relationships to secure ongoing custom. Roger Cranston, operations director please come up to receive their award
FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR - Sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers Ltd.
Winner – Village Dairy
A lovely family story, and previously highly commended at these awards, The Village Dairy said judges, epitomised the kind of family business judges were looking to award, now run by the owners 3 children, crucially setting up a continuity a family business requires. An artisan yoghurt producer with some very smart packaging designs, products are well marketed in a highly innovative way. Owain Roberts, operations director, and Llior Roberts, sales and marketing director received their award from Graeme Cock, Chairman of Mole Valley Farmers.
Highly Commended – English Whisky Company Ltd
This farming family over generations have grown and processed grain for over 600 years. The whisky distillery officially opened 7 years ago by HRH the Prince of Wales, and they just been awarded European Whisky of the year for 2014.
Andrew Nelstrop, owner and managing director received the award.
Look out for features on the winners in future editions of Farm Business and photos from the event will be available shortly